This year, the Vetements and Balenciaga designer has distinguished himself as the person who had the most impact on the global fashion industry.
The times bring forth the man, or so the saying goes. And if these turbulent and transitional times in fashion — and the wider world — have been shaped by one person this year, it is the head designer of Vetements and the artistic director of Balenciaga, Demna Gvasalia, who graced the cover of BoF's special print issue, The New World Order, in February.
Over the past 12 months, the Georgian designer has brought a couture sensibility to streetwear at Vetements, and conversely a streetwear sensibility to his work at Balenciaga, rippling throughout the global fashion industry and making him the most impactful voice working in fashion in 2016.
Although much of the discussion surrounding Gvasalia has centered on his creative influence in the industry, Vetements’ operational model, rolled out at the beginning of this year, made an equally important business impact. Despite its comparatively small size and independence, Vetements was among the first brands to rethink and rationalise the ever-increasing speed and demands of the current fashion system — alongside much bigger players such as Burberry, Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger.
“The whole system just didn’t work anymore… There is no relationship between the creative vision and the commercial vision. This whole vicious circle turns and turns at a very fast speed and kills both the creativity and the business,” Gvasalia told BoF back in December 2015. On reflection, Gvasalia’s sentiments and Vetements' resulting commercial strategy now appear impressively prescient.
“From the beginning we agreed that we would only produce two collections a year and we would not engage ourselves into making pre-collections. The creative part needs to be much more in advance of the market, and to offer something that is not out there, to challenge it and to make the market want it,” said the designer.
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